Updated: Mar 23
Have you ever felt like you are not reaching your full potential? To understand why, it might be worth your while to learn more about ADHD. It is not uncommon for women to go undiagnosed from childhood. A common misconception is that only hyperactive boys have ADHD. Many women go undiagnosed and suffer as a result. Thankfully, more research and awareness is centered around women and ADHD. After getting the diagnosis, many women feel a great relief to know what’s behind a lifetime of underachievement and frustration. So many of us are now thriving with proper diagnosis and treatment. The life you want is entirely possible. Awareness and understanding how you are wired is the key.
What Is ADHD?
For women who don't know, let me explain... ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. For many professionals who have dedicated their lives to the study of ADHD traits, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is poorly labeled. According to Ned Hallowell, MD and John Ratey, MD the more appropriate label is Variable Attention Stimulus Trait or VAST. It’s not that we can’t pay attention, it’s that attention varies given the situation. Per Ned Hallowell, it’s more that “people with ADHD are drawn to high stimulation situations and their attention varies based on the level of stimulation within the situation. If we are interested, we can pay attention all day long!
In previous years, it was believed that women did not suffer from ADHD. However, this misconception is now long gone. Currently, adult women make up one of the highest diagnosed demographics. Lives are being changed for the better with proper diagnosis and treatment.
Types Of ADHD
There are three main types of ADHD:
1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation:
Inattentive ADHD was formally called ADD. People in this category tend to appear quiet, distracted or daydreamy. They are often sensitive to external stimuli and introverted. Quality of work can be inconsistent as they tend to struggle with sustained attention, following directions and organizing. As with most with ADHD of any category, their working memory, emotional regulation, and interest level is low. This is not to say that they cannot find a passion or excel in a profession, because they absolutely can. Once they find what is of interest to them, they are like different people altogether- passion “driven”. Once this passion is found, with the right resources and support around their lagging executive function skills, they can do anything.
2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation:
People in this category are very different in that they are in constant motion. They are not sensitive to external stimuli as they are too busy to notice. They are often talking, laughing (sometimes inappropriately), and interrupting. Rather than being introverted they tend to be more intrusive and off putting. This can be a problem for them socially in that their skills at reading nonverbal cues are often lagging. Again, working memory, emotion regulation and interest are low. These people excel in very action oriented and exciting careers such as piloting, firefighting and police work.
3. Combined Presentation:
The third condition is a combination of the symptoms of the two conditions mentioned above and is the most common.
Some Signs and Symptoms of Women Thriving With ADHD
Women who have ADHD show some visible symptoms, which will help you identify them. These symptoms are mainly peculiar routine behaviors. Some of the common symptoms and signs which women suffering from ADHD might have are as follows:
1. Unorganized cupboard or desk. You clean it, but after two to three days, the desk reverts to its old condition.
2. Easily distracted by external stimuli. You don't like working in the office because of all the noise and distractions around you.
3. Exhausted at the end of the day. You have to put so much effort into yourself to stay calm and normal with other people around you that you have nothing left when you get home.
5. Feeling lost. You will have a gut feeling that all the bills are pending, and at work, you will have a constant tension of not meeting deadlines.
6. Social phobia. Dinners, gatherings, and parties make you feel overwhelmed as you may miss what you did that may have been offputting, but you did not miss the rejection.
7. Spacing out when listening to someone. When you listen to someone speaking for a long time, your mind always drifts to other thoughts, and you find it hard to concentrate.
8. Feeling introverted. You cannot handle friendships that require a lot of meeting up and other formalities.
9. Or overly verbose. You like talking, and when with a group of people, you are the one speaking the most.
10. Active. People might have called you a tomboy when growing up because you liked more outdoor games and energy-draining games, which boys usually play.
11. Overwhelm. You cannot manage your money or household bills, utilities, and other chores.
12. Poor at financial matters. You are prone to impulsive spending.
13. Private. You don’t like having guests over to your place.
14. Self-loathing. There is constant regret lingering on your chest because you think you should be a better friend, girlfriend, wife, or mother.
15. Poor working memory. When grocery shopping, you usually forget the main thing you needed to buy and get distracted by other things.
16. Poor emotional regulatin. You are often frustrated over the most minor things, and you find it hard to relax.
Medications Treatment for Women With ADHD
The medications of ADHD in women's cases are far trickier than men's meditations because they might disturb female hormones. The best medications you can take are antidepressants and anxiety-control pills. These are not the ultimate solution to ADHD, but they help a lot. In other scenarios where the situation is complicated, you can take ADHD medications, but other hormone-normalizing medicines are added to your regimen.
Some Treatment Options
Medications alone are not enough to get your ADHD in check. Some other practices will help women thriving with ADHD get better.
1. Parent Training
As they say, the base of anything builds at home. So, your parents must acknowledge that you are going through some disease and they should support you. Only your parents understanding enough and not singling you out because of your behavior will help you in recovery.
2. ADHD Coaching
It is a comparatively new thing for people going through this disease. There are ADHD coaching centers where people will talk to you about your situations and help you relax. If you don't have such centers in your area, you can book appointments over the phone and have a conversation.
3. Career Guidance
ADHD can hamper your career, but you should not let the disease worsen because of your job. Most women freak out because they are not performing well in the workplace, and this worsens the situation. For career guidance, you can contact people, and they will help you choose the right career, which will go well with ADHD and your personality.
4. Group Therapy
Group therapy is the same as ADHD coaching, but this coaching is provided to a group of women with ADHD. This way, you can compare yourself with others and feel less alone with your struggles, and you won’t feel bad about yourself. Another good thing about it is that it will create a competitive environment that will help a speedy recovery.
5. Professional Training
Some institutes provide professional training to women with ADHD to help them overcome this. There are many activities like organizing and managing things. It triggers their ADHD, but, at the same time, they will learn how to control it.
Some Other Ways You Can Help Yourself
Along with all these practices, there are a few other things that will help you get over ADHD. Some of the main things that you can do regularly are as follows:
1. Drive Safely
Traffic can overwhelm you. Make sure when you are driving that you drive safely and don't drive past the speed limit because it can lead to severe accidents.
2. Manage Your Time
When you cannot manage your time in an efficient way, the best thing to do is make a daily timetable and go according to that schedule.
3. Don’t Go For Perfectionism
Nobody is perfect, and you need to accept this fact. Don't go for perfectionism. There are things you cannot get right, and there is nothing to criticize yourself over.
The best way to let your energy out is to exercise. Work out daily in the morning. This will keep you at peace the whole day.
5. Practise Self-Care
Self-care is the best way to relax. Sit back and put on a facemask. This will certainly help you get rid of anxiety.
6. Consider hiring the help you need
This is in order to use your skills more productively. If house cleaning, cooking, and accounting drain you, consuming your time, consider hiring someone to help you. Perhaps find a friend and trade talents.
ADHD Might Get To Your Work Life
Most women who are thriving with ADHD have found a perfect balance between their work-life and ADHD. They are getting all their work done on time and managing ADHD. Practice all the above exercises and choose a career option that will make the most out of your energy rather than leaving you at a desk to think about every little detail and feel the need to prepare for every situation. More physical activities are what will suit you and keep your work life in accord.
What to Do if You Are Discovering It Now for Yourself?
If you are now discovering that you have ADHD, then you can easily overcome it. All you have to do is try to make sure you don't let things overwhelm you. Practice the above exercises and consult your doctor for medications.
No disease is something you cannot overcome. Women are generally stronger, and they can easily overcome things. There are many examples around you where women with ADHD are easily thriving and leading exemplary lives with ADHD. Take motivation from them. There is nothing that can stop you, so never let it bring you down.
ADHD is not taboo, and it is equally prevalent in women and men. Let me know how you liked this blog about ADHD.